England v Hungary preview
Time for the Three Lions to Roar
The England football revival supposedly begins tonight in what is possibly the most important international friendly in our history. Steven Gerrard’s open invitation to boo the England players will be met with more enthusiasm and swiftness by the England faithful than Sven putting himself in the frame for the Villa job.
Nothing less than 100 per cent from each and every World Cup player, particularly, will suffice tonight, and even then it will take more than one good performance against the mediocre Magyars to begin to rebuild the broken relations between the fans and the team.
The man who used to be respectfully dubbed ‘Don’ Fabio rather than how he is now commonly mocked as ‘Postman Pat’ has a tough, if not impossible, task of rebuilding his reputation and long-gone Mourinho-esque aura of invincibility.
His new squad has already been hit by the somewhat humiliating, but unsurprising retirements of Paul Robinson and Wes Brown, combined with Michael Carrick’s withdrawal due to ‘injury’. This new age of national football seems as though it will be largely reliant on most of those World Cup flops – 10 of those under-performers have been selected in the squad for tonight’s game and, realistically, most of those will be expected to carry England through the European Championship qualifiers that begin against Bulgaria next month.
The future, for me at least, does look quite bright. Our next generation of players that we dream of taking us to that elusive second World Cup victory (or final appearance would be a start) boasts a number of exciting prospects such as Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Rodwell (not in the squad tonight) and Adam Johnson, the latter who has already been capped at first-team level and who was both unfortunate, and wrongly, left to watch the World Cup at home.
All things considered, I expect the starting eleven tonight to compromise most of the players who ‘played’ in South Africa, if not to prove they deserve to be there and are worthy of wearing the Three Lions shirt, then to take the criticism that they deserve.
Probable starting XI: Joe Hart, G. Johnson, Dawson, Terry, A. Cole, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, A. Johnson, Rooney, C. Cole
The second half will provide the opportunity to mix the team around, and I hope to see a team that actually resembles a ‘new age’, though I suspect most of the first-half players will be substituted:
Joe Hart, G. Johnson, Dawson, Cahill, Gibbs, Walcott, Wilshere, Gerrard, A. Johnson, Rooney, Zamora
What would be your starting XI for tonight and who would you like to see be given a chance?